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July 22, 2020 4:28 pm

Former UK Chief Rabbi Calls Chinese Persecution of Uyghur Muslims a ‘Desecration of Faith Itself’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A pro-Uyghur demonstration in Hong Kong, Dec. 22, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Lucy Nicholson.

A former chief rabbi of Great Britain on Wednesday strongly criticized the China’s persecution of Uyghur Muslims, calling it “a moral outrage, a political scandal, and a desecration of faith itself.”

The Uyghurs, a Muslim minority group native to the Xinjiang autonomous region in northwestern China, have been subjected to a brutal campaign of dislocation and “reeducation” by the Beijing regime in recent months, including deportations to camps, torture, unsanitary conditions and psychological pressure techniques intended to force them to conform to the ruling Communist Party’s line.

“As a human being who believes in the sanctity of human life, I am deeply troubled by what is happening to the Uyghur Muslim population in China,” Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

“As a Jew, knowing our history, the sight of people being shaven-headed, lined up, boarded onto trains, and sent to concentration camps is particularly harrowing,” he said.

He continued, “That people in the 21st century are being murdered, terrorized, victimized, intimidated, and robbed of their liberties because of the way they worship God is a moral outrage, a political scandal, and a desecration of faith itself.”

“The worldwide implementation of Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights — the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion — remains one of the great challenges of our time,” Sacks added. “This right is too often lost when one group within a society, usually the dominant group, sees another group as a threat to its freedom and its own dominance, or when there is a struggle between the will to power and the will to life.”

“Threat becomes fear, fear becomes hate, and hate becomes dehumanization,” he said. “The Nazis called Jews vermin and lice. The Hutus of Rwanda called the Tutsis inyenzi, or cockroaches. When the world allows the dehumanization of the Other, evil follows, as night follows day.”

“Today, this is happening to the Uyghur population in China and it must be challenged by the global community in the strongest possible terms,” Sacks concluded.

The UK Jewish community is already heavily involved in the campaign on behalf of the Uyghurs.

In January, the Board of Deputies of British Jews partnered with the World Uyghur Congress to organize an event at the House of Commons in London focused the Uyghur situation.

Board of Deputies of British Jews Vice President Edwin Shuker said at the event, “Let us remember — what hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor but the silence of the bystander. And it’s our silence that I find inexplicable. In this week when we commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, we also devote ourselves to coming to the aid of those who are facing oppression and persecution like the Uighurs. We stand with them in their struggle for human rights and we will do whatever we can to help.”

Maajid Nawaz — a British Muslim activist who recently went on a hunger strike to draw attention to the plight of the Uighurs — said on Saturday, “My Jewish brethren are the only ones I ain’t gonna call out. They’ve stepped up already and are here with me right now.”

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